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Cytometry A. 2009 Jun;75(6):520-7. doi: 10.1002/cyto.a.20718.

Characterization of circulating tumor cells by fluorescence in situ hybridization.

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Faculty of Science and Technology, University of Twente, Enschede, The Netherlands.


Tumor cells in blood of patients with metastatic carcinomas have been associated with poor survival prospects. Further characterization of these cells may provide further insights into the metastatic process. Circulating Tumor Cells (CTC) were enumerated in 7.5 mL of blood with the CellSearch system. After enumeration of Cytokeratin+, CD45-, nucleated cells, the cells are fixed in the cartridge while maintaining their original position. Cartridges were hybridized with FISH probes against the centromeric regions of chromosome 1, 7, 8, and 17. Next fluorescence images of the FISH probes of the previous identified CTC were acquired. Leukocytes surrounding the CTC were used as internal controls. The number of copies of chromosome 1, 7, 8, and 17 could be determined in 118 CTC containing blood samples from 59 metastatic prostate cancer patients. The samples contained a total of 21,751 CTC (mean 184, median 16, SD 650). Chromosome counts were obtained in 61% of the relocated CTC. On an average, these CTC contained 2.8 copies of chromosome 1, 2.7 copies of chromosome 7, 3.1 copies of chromosome 8, and 2.3 copies of chromosome 17. CTC in which no chromosome count was obtained most likely underwent apoptosis indicated by the expression of M30. In 6/59 patients only diploid CTC were detected these samples, however, only contained 1-5 CTC. Heterogeneity in the chromosomal abnormalities was observed between CTC of different patients as well as among CTC of the same patient. Cytogenetic composition of CTC can be reliably assessed after they have been identified by the CellSearch system. The majority of CTC in hormone refractory prostate cancer are aneuploid confirming that they indeed are cancer cells. An extensive heterogeneity in the copy number of each of the chromosomes was observed.

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